Thoughts of Artistic Graphic Design in a Consumer World

We got an interesting email from a designer complaining that his client rejects some of his work because it is “too artsy”. Sorry, we had to use this word, although we hate it, just to show the client’s attitude. One quote that bothered us very badly was: “This is a billboard, it goes on the street, not in a museum!”

When did graphic design stop being a form of art and turned into a consumer product? And why? Why would a client reject a carefully designed and creative piece for being “too artsy”? The price was agreed upon – there are no worries that the end product will cost more than what is stated in the contract.

Here are a few thoughts, which we put together after some consideration:


Creativity Equals Luxury Products

Some clients may fear that an overly creative and elaborate promotional banner will drive customers away. Since we live in an age where the concept “quality means luxury” still lives strong, your client would not want his clients to think that he sells overpriced products.


Not Everyone Understands a Creative Concept

An artistic concept may be very abstract and hard to grasp by someone with a practical, what-I-say-is-what-I-mean type of mind. This person will certainly not grasp the subtle meaning of your graphic design, and will think that his clients will not understand it either. A graphic designer needs to find a balance between his artistic ideas and the practical aspect of the project he is paid to develop.


Diamonds Before the Pigs

Sadly, you will meet with this concept. It goes like this: why so much trouble for a promotional poster for boxer briefs? Your client is a wholesale trader or a small grocer. His clients are not valued customers, because he sells low value products in bulk. He will not appreciate a careful graphic design because he does not appreciate his clients enough to make their shopping experience special.


Not a Conclusion, But Some Final Thoughts

The only honest advice we could give the designer who wrote to us was to pick his battles carefully. He could be the digital Picasso for the right type of clients. He could find professional satisfaction in important projects, where his talent can be showcased properly.

However, for another class of clients, the ones allergic to artistic words, he should shave his creativity and give them the bland graphic design they are looking for. Save your talent for moments when it is needed. Or refuse consumerist oriented clients. It all depends how much money you make and how much it would impact your earnings if you let go of all these clients.

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Ionut B
Digital Art Director with an innovative creative thinking able to translate ideas and concepts into useful and memorable interactive marketing campaigns.

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